Oudtshoorn was once the world’s leading supplier of ostrich feathers, but there’s much more to this town than tall, flightless birds. It’s a great starting point for exploring Little Karoo, Great Karoo and the Garden Route.
Oudtshoorn sits on the edge of Little Karoo. It’s a little more hospitable than the arid-semi desert of Great Karoo, so the locals can rear ostriches with ease. And they’ve been doing so for centuries. Back in the 1860s, ostrich feathers were all the rage in the West. High-society ladies would wear these feathers on their head in a slightly precarious, but oh-so-fashionable, way.
This trend helped the town of Oudtshoorn flourish; many of the townspeople became ‘feather barons’ and grew rich quite quickly. You can still see their imprint on the town as they created several mansions, nicknamed ‘feather palaces’, and the CP Nel Museum that still stands today.
Other than the ostriches, the Cango Caves are the biggest draw to Oudtshoorn. You’ll see huge caverns with stalactites dramatically lit to show off their immense size and craggy surface.
The main thing about Oudtshoorn is that it’s a great base for exploring other areas. Little Karoo is surrounded by rugged mountains and steep valleys that intrepid travellers would love to climb. Years ago, the British created passes through the mountains to make travelling more accessible. From Oudtshoorn you can take the Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert. The drive can be a bit scary, but the views from the mountain are spectacular.
Oudtshoorn sits at the start of the Route 62 wine route. Some of the finest South African Port wines are made here, so you should check this area out during your stay. This town is the tourist centre of Little Karoo, so many people use it as a base while they explore other areas. It can get a little busy, but there are plenty of accommodation options and restaurants to suit everyone.
Plan your trip to Oudtshoorn today.